This year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is continuing his annual tradition of "a personal challenge," which we mere mortals refer to as "New Year's Resolutions." In the past, those have led him in to form an online book club, run 365 miles, and most recently, develop an artificially intelligent butler. Going back further, Zuck has even resolved to only eat the meat of animals that he has killed himself. But now that he's a lame internet dad busy posting baby pics of his daughter Max, the guy's gone all soft on us. This year he's not aiming to cure cancer or eradicate homelessness or build a working lightsaber, he's just going to go on some road trips, shake a few hands, and walking among the masses come to a grand realization about our divided nation.
In short, Zuckerberg's new year's resolution is just the 50-state strategy — he's going to try to take road trips and meet and talk to one person from every state. The man who once sought to learn Mandarin now hopes to learn.... American.
As he announced in a Facebook post today:
"My personal challenge for 2017 is to have visited and met people in every state in the US by the end of the year. I've spent significant time in many states already, so I'll need to travel to about 30 states this year to complete this challenge.
After a tumultuous last year, my hope for this challenge is to get out and talk to more people about how they're living, working and thinking about the future.
Priscilla and I have enjoyed taking road trips together since we started dating. Recently, I've traveled around the world and visited many cities, and now I'm excited to explore more of our country and meet more people here.
Going into this challenge, it seems we are at a turning point in history. For decades, technology and globalization have made us more productive and connected. This has created many benefits, but for a lot of people it has also made life more challenging. This has contributed to a greater sense of division than I have felt in my lifetime. We need to find a way to change the game so it works for everyone.
My work is about connecting the world and giving everyone a voice. I want to personally hear more of those voices this year. It will help me lead the work at Facebook and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative so we can make the most positive impact as the world enters an important new period.
My trips this year will take different forms -- road trips with Priscilla, stops in small towns and universities, visits to our offices across the country, meetings with teachers and scientists, and trips to fun places you recommend along the way.
I've enjoyed doing these challenges with our community and I'll post tomorrow about how everyone around the world can join in. I'm looking forward to this challenge and I hope to see you out there!"
Last week, there was a bit of hubbub around a small remark Zuckerberg made online: He had updated his Facebook status to say he was "celebrating Christmas," and responding to a friend's post asking "but aren't you an atheist?" Zuckerberg wrote: "No. I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important." An expedient position for a man with designs to discover the Bible Belt. We'll be waiting to see what revelations Zuckerberg has, divine or otherwise, while he's out on the road looking for the Real America.